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SEEKING SUPPORT?
The Alliance has compiled a number of resources available for survivors, their friends and families, and professionals assisting survivors in New York City.

History of SAFE Services in NYC

1966: The Crime Victims Board is established in New York State, which provides financial relief to victims of crime and their families by paying for crime-related expenses.

1975: New York Rape Shield Law provides for a general rule prohibiting evidence of a victim's prior sexual conduct.

1970s: Rape Crisis Programs arise both nationally and in New York City as part of a movement to provide care to sexual assault survivors. These victims' advocates then begin to develop local, state and national reforms to address standard-of-care procedures within hospitals.

1987: First Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Center in New York City at Bellevue Hospital.

1989: Interviewing in Private Settings: New York State Law requires police departments and district attorneys' offices to provide private settings for interviewing victims of sex offenses.

1991: Rape Crisis Center Notification Law requires police departments in New York State to provide victims of sex offenses with name, address, and telephone number of the nearest rape crisis center.

1993: Rape Crisis Counselors' Confidentiality Law establishes confidentiality privileges for rape crisis counselors.

1993: The Department of Criminal Justice develops the Sexual Offense Evidence Collection (SOEC) kit to create a standard protocol for hospital personnel to follow in the collection of evidence.

1994: DNA Databank Legislation enacted that authorizes the collection of DNA samples from all persons convicted of certain felonies, including sex offenses.

1995: In New York City, the Rape Treatment Consortium (RTC) is established. The RTC reviews Sexual Assault Examiner (SAE), also known as Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) programs throughout the country, and decides to use the Tulsa, Oklahoma program as a model to use and then adapt to the realities of New York City. The RTC recommendations include basing New York SAE programs in emergency departments, utilizing physician assistants and physicians in addition to nurses as examiners, and incorporating volunteer advocacy programs.

Based on the RTC's recommendations, New York State establishes Sexual Assault Examiner (SAE) Programs in 1995 to improve the delivery of emergency care to victims of sexual assault. SAE programs are supported by federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funds which are administered by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services.

1997: SAFE Program established at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital.

1998: Long Island College Hospital starts a SAFE program in Brooklyn, followed by Beth Israel Hospital.

2000: Management of the Rape Treatment Consortium transferred to the New York City Alliance against Sexual Assault and renamed the Forensic Healthcare Program.

2001: Sexual Assault Reform Act (SARA) enhances definition of lack of consent and sexual assault and mandates that the New York State Department of Health (NYS-DOH) formally designate hospitals as SAFE Centers and set forth basic standards for victim treatment.

2003: The Forensic Healthcare Program at the Alliance, in conjunction with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and the New York State Department of Health, establish the Criminal Justice Collaboration Project (CJCP). The goal of this project is to create a forum where parties from sexual assault treatment programs meet regularly with representatives from the criminal justice system to discuss common issues and concerns, identify areas of existing need, and problem solve.

2004: Mayor Michael Bloomberg commits to the first public and sustained funding of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) program in New York City. The first SART program is established in the Bronx, consisting of three public hospitals in the Bronx, a team of 15-20 SAFE Examiners, and a cadre of volunteer advocates.

June 2005: SAFE in the CITY forum held by the Forensic Healthcare Program at the Alliance. The SAFE in the CITY forum is attended by direct service providers, representatives from the Mayor's office and the New York State and City Departments of Health. The purpose of this forum is to provide a setting for key stakeholders to meet and develop tangible designs for a citywide SAFE system, in which every rape victim in New York City is guaranteed access to the best standard of acute care sexual violence services.

2006: Mayor Bloomberg expands the SART program to hospitals in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

2006: Elimination of the Statue of Limitations for sexual assault crimes in New York State.

April 2007: The Alliance conducts two large-scale research projects – “How SAFE is New York City? The services available to sexual assault patients in NYC Emergency Departments” and “A Room of Our Own: Survivors Evaluate NYC Services” – concerning services available for sexual assault victims in New York City and survivors' experiences in seeking care in health services, rape crisis centers, the police, and the criminal justice system.

2007: Utilizing input from the SAFE in the CITY forum along with findings from the large-scale research projects released in April 2007, the Alliance proposes the "SAFE NYC Initiative: The New York City Sexual Assault Services Partnership to Mobilize Resources to Ensure Victim-Centered Care for All."

2008: The Alliance reorganizes the Forensic Healthcare Program in order to reflect the increasingly collaborative nature of the organization's health and forensic services work. The resulting Health and Forensic Services Project (HFSP) aims to provide technical assistance to certified SAFE Centers, developing SAFE Centers, and other New York City emergency rooms. HFSP also manages SAFETI, the Sexual Assault Health and Forensic Services Training Institute, and, in collaboration with the New York Academy of Medicine and the Greater New York Hospital Association, HFSP at the Alliance continues to pursue the SAFE NYC Initiative.

In December of 2008, the number of advocates and volunteers approved for confidentiality privileges in New York City totaled 714, while 1,914 serve Rape Crisis Centers statewide.

2009: Volunteer advocates are community members who complete 40 hours of training and are certified by the state of New York to provide crisis counseling to survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence in New York City emergency departments.

Rally to Take Rape Seriously